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To ensure transparency: Public participation sought in budget making process

By Bureau report
September 20, 2023

PESHAWAR: The Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) launched a report on state of budget transparency in Pakistan that called for public participation in the budget making process.

The “Dialogue on Budget Making and Execution from Citizens” was organised by Citizens’ Network for Budget Accountability (CNBA) in Peshawar. Key findings of the report included digital accessibility advances that showed Pakistan made commendable progress in making budgetary documents more accessible digitally.

Citizens’ participatory audit indicates Pakistan’s intent to actively involve its citizenry in the auditing process. These key findings provide an insightful analysis of international best practices, and showcase the potential path ahead for Pakistan.

Based on analysis and comparison with world practices, recommendations have been made as well. These recommendations included public participation in the budget making process which has been claimed to be the most important. Drawing inspiration from South Korea’s success, Pakistan should consider launching a centralized digital platform dedicated to fostering citizen participation.

This platform should be designed to present intricate budgetary details to the citizens. Nationwide public consultations are recommended which must include town-hall meetings and workshops during the budget formulation phase. This should ensure adequate representation from every sector and region.

It is also recommended to engage collaboratively with media and educational institutions to bolster public understanding and engagement in the budgetary procedure. To nurture public trust, it is essential to not only solicit feedback but to also acknowledge, evaluate, and incorporate it. It is recommended in the report that Pakistan needs a transparent feedback mechanism for this purpose.

Amer Ejaz consultant and author of CPDI’s 4th annual report on “State of Budget Transparency in Pakistan” said that budget transparency was an essential component of democratic governance.

“It ensures that citizens, who ultimately bear the cost of fiscal decisions, are informed, and have an avenue to hold their representatives accountable for how public resources are used,” he added. As Pakistan navigates its fiscal challenges, the importance of transparency in its budgetary processes becomes even more crucial, he concluded.